Defining and living out the interior: the ‘modern’ apartment and the ‘urban’ housewife in Turkey during the 1950s and 1960s
This study investigates the interaction of women’s gendered identities and performances in the modern middle strata with the new apartment, while complicating the boundary between the legitimizing discourses of modern architecture and ideas around femininity, during the 1950s and 1960s in Turkey. It conceptualizes domestic premises as the inhabitant’s space, where gender roles are formed and performed. Drawing on research concerning the postwar construction of women’s identities and diverse ideas of feminine space in a global context, I examine how the apartment was a place for women, who were conceptualized as Western and happy housewives amid Cold War geopolitics. The study ponders ways in which women negotiated/subverted conflicting expectations of the modern housewife. The apartment mediated powerful discourses on structures of patriarchy and identities, while simultaneously allowing women to define and live out the modern domicile as active agents. It embodied the intermediate space between the concepts of modern and traditional, Western and non-Western, urban and rural, and masculine and feminine.